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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)

The Bridge Builders

The Bridge Builders.

Out on the lonely mountain side
They are building a bridge,
Heavy blows thundering,
Till the mountain stars, all open eyed
Peep over the ridge
Questioning, wondering;
And the winches whirr; the derricks swing,
The monkeys pound and the taut wires sing,
The night lies dark on the long incline
And they're bridging a gap in the railway line
Where the sodden earth fell sundering.
Black overhead the mountains loom
In sullen pomp
Guarding God's chariot.
And far, far down through the heavy gloom
Gleams the river swamp,
Still, where reeds bury it.
And the Wells Light fades and the sweet streams run
In a battle with time that must be won,
Hoarse voices call, the tired shifts change,
The mail must travel across the range
And they're building a bridge to carry it.
The light of the flares show drooping fronds
And a trickling stream,
Babbling and stammering,
And a weka out in the bush responds
To the winches scream and the engine's clamouring
While the tall bridge grows ‘neath the toiling hands
Of the men who leap to the hours demands
With straining muscles and brains and eyes
Till the merry sparks and the red fire flies
To the regular, rythmical hammering.
Far down the valley an engine calls
And struggles up hill hauling warm carriages
Women asleep wrapped well in shawls
From the night air chill, dreaming of marriages.
And the rivets glow 'neath the hammer's blows
While the hot hearts beat and the hot blood flows
Through the bursting veins of the workers there
Who have time to fashion (and none to spare)
A path for those glowing carriages.
Nearer, all throbbing, the mail train comes
Now it is close, labouring, thundering,
Each glistening rail on its firm bed hums,
And the whistle blows, challenging, wondering.
Then the men who have built the bridge stand back
With the bolts still hot in the new laid track
And watch the glittering wheels go past.
While the rolling roar, and the funnels blast
Echo on, echo on, thundering,
Up where the mighty mountains loom in solemn pomp
Guarding God's chariot,
And the Mungaroa flows through the gloom
Past the sullen swamp, whose swaying reeds bury it.
They have built a bridge, the long trains creep
With straining gear up the gradient steep,
The mail roars loud up the mountain side
And stubborn men in their stubborn pride
Have made a road to carry it.